Desmond Kane

Hodgson’s England can learn from cricket team’s misplaced sense of entitlement

Pride comes before a fall. In Brisbane and Adelaide, pride has come before the fall of wickets.

England's cricket team appear to be suffering the series from hell Down Under, skewered on the barbie and apparently about to be turned over to be giving a good grilling on the other side.

The 2-0 lead built up by the Baggy Greens with nonsensical ease in the five-match series leaves them one win way away from recapturing the Ashes seven years after they last revelled in clasping the little urn.

The third Test that begins in Perth on Thursday is expected to complete England’s descent into disarray, a startling tale of one squad's failure to meet the mental examination of Ashes cricket.

England’s run-scoring has been as arid as parts of the Great Sandy Desert. The inquest is likely to begin before the turkey is nestling in your mouth ahead of the traditional Boxing Day start to the fourth Test in Melbourne.

Despite the obvious desire and application of the Aussies, one cannot escape from the conclusion that some of England's wounds have been self-inflicted. England's cricketers seem to be suffering from a lack of psychological preparation as much as heart.

Thunder was coming in the heat of the Aussie summer, but England have been unwilling or unable to meet fire with fire. England's batsmen have crumbled in the face of a home side who have obviously become fed up with losing.

They may not be approaching anything like the levels of feistiness of Glenn McGrath or Shane Warne, but some of these Aussies know how to unsettle England with their attitude. It becomes easier for blokes like the confrontational David Warner when the opponents willingly subside.

Mitchell Johnson is sporting the sort of handlebar moustache and attitude that Merv Hughes once found second nature in between slugs of VB back in the day, but England’s plight is embarrassing when one considers the optimism that circled the squad prior to the first Test in Brisbane.

It is astonishing to think it is less than three weeks ago since the misguided Ian Botham was making noises about England completing a 5-0 series whitewash Down Under. "I haven't seen anything to make me change my mind about England winning 5-0," said Beefy prior to the First Test. "The first day of the first Test is always tough, whichever way it goes because both sides will want to make an impression but I think that England, as a team, out-gun Australia."

If there is a lesson to take from England's collapse, it is that a sense of entitlement rarely contributes anything healthy towards sport or life. We seem to live in a world of useless celebrity culture where people have been brought up to think they are somehow Princes and Princesses, that they are the stars of their own film on social networking sites.

Especially on forums such as Twitter where they can get their message on the move seconds after picking up a mobile phone. It is an unedifying sight that only sets you up for a fall, and it has played out amid this England team.

How ill-advised does the under-performing Kevin Pietersen’s public tête-à-tête on Twitter with a Brisbane newspaper seem now? A lack of basic ability with the bat has not been helped by underestimating the home side. Crushing defeats of 381 runs in Brisbane followed by 218 in Adelaide speaks volumes. The crash has felt more damaging because of a misplaced sense of self-worth.

"He who humbles himself shall be exalted." This could have come from the book of Matthew Hoggard. Scripture was obviously not referring to KP.

“I can't help people thinking I'm arrogant. A lot of great sportsmen have that little bit of something to them that makes them try to be the best and want to be the best and wake up every single day wanting to improve,” said Pietersen ahead of the first Test.

"I call it confidence - confidence in my ability - wanting to perform every single day. I call it confidence; you guys call it arrogance, because it makes for a better headline."

Facing the dismantling of their hopes becomes so much harder when some England players probably think in their private moments: “We don’t deserve this.”

England have wallowed in plaudits for their three previous Ashes series succeses since 2009, including a 3-0 win back in Blighty only four months ago, but life can only ever be about the here and now. England's footballers have been harpooned by a similar mindset of entitlement approaching so many major tournaments over the past four decades.

Why? Because England won the World Cup in 1966 and England is the home of football. There has been nothing much else to fall back apart from what has been a healthy dose of arrogance, mainly driven by a rabid print press. Especially with the 'Golden Generation' guff applied to Sven-Goran Eriksson’s squad in 2002 and 2006.

Strangely enough, there was an odd sense of dread rather than bullish soundbites when England’s footballers were parachuted into a group alongside Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica for next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil.

That feeling was illustrated by the Football Association chairman Greg Dyke who jokingly mimicked cutting his throat after the unfortunate news emerged about who England would be encountering in the opening phase of the finals.

That is not an unhealthy sentiment to express despite the former England manager Glenn Hoddle claiming the national side have struck oil by landing in a group with past winners Italy and Uruguay. Beefy Botham probably thinks they can win it 5-0.

"We've had a bit of luck and it's about time we had it in a World Cup and I think we can get out of the group - especially if our spine remains fit,” said Hoddle.

It is better for England to expect nothing. If you end up with nothing you are not disappointed. If you have nothing, there is everything to gain.

The last 16 should be seen as some sort of vision of Utopia for England at next year's finals. Anything else above that should not be part of England's mental budget for the finals.

Touching down in South America with expectation of riches will lead only to disappointment.

A quiet self-belief is a different beast from entitlement.

England is the traditional home of football, but reputation and the past counts for nothing.

As their cricket brethren have discovered amid some potentially ruinous days.